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What is the BirthWorks Experience?

In 2020, like many, we had time to reflect on the past and re-create what BirthWorks future would be. 

So we asked key people involved with BirthWorks – What is the BirthWorks Experience to you? 

We asked given the long-term involvement of many, all of whom started off attending a BirthWorks workshop or completing at least one of their professional certifications with BirthWorks. Many of them have used BirthWorks Philosophy to inspire their own work for years (some decades), and their own lives, and some became ambassadors, mentors or trainers.

We share their reflections and insight to give you, if new to BirthWorks International, a deep sense of the uniqueness and value of this approach to childbirth preparation and to training. birth workers. They follow the intention to create an exceptionally safe and loving space for mothers (and families) to have the most positive pregnancies, labors, births and be happy empowered new parents.

So – here’s some insight on the BirthWorks Experience!

To me, BirthWorks is a foundational program for learning about the potential and experience of birth from an empowered and informed perspective. Too many women today are unaware of or have lost sight of how important preparing for birth is on the birth and postpartum experience, not only for the woman, but for the baby and family as well. BirthWorks invites women and their partners to participate in the birth experience and subsequently realize this potential.

What is unique about BWI?  It’s core of the practice of human values is the path to change and transformation of childbirth practices. I’m involved to be a part of creating a better society through birth since the experiences of a woman giving birth is generational. The BirthWorks Experience is the royal highway to manifesting our full human potential by realizing the power women have to practice the human values in their births and lives. It is experiential, increases confidence, and decreases fear in birth and in life. The practice of human values experience transformation.

BirthWorks is an all-encompassing program for Childbirth Education and Doula training. These programs focus on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual preparation during pregnancy and labor. There is also a specific curriculum that is not touched on in other programs – pelvic bodywork, grieving and healing, feelings and more. The biggest reason that I am involved is that I want birthing parents to know that they have choices. BirthWorks provides evidence-based education for the birthing community to understand their rights and choices as a “consumer.” It is imperative that birthing parents understand that just because something is routine doesn’t mean that it is best and that they have a say in their experience.

The BirthWorks philosophies are very inspirational. Teaching women that they have the power and knowledge within them to birth their babies is so important in today’s society. I feel as though it is easy to believe that we need the assistance of others and that we are merely vessels and passive participants in birth but BirthWorks aims to create a different way of thinking

The BirthWorks Experience allows birthing families to delve deeper. Birth is not just a physical experience – it is emotional and spiritual and a life changing experience. BirthWorks encourages and allows parents to lean into this and prepares them for the entire birth experience. The BirthWorks Experience is meant to be more than a didactic experience so that birthing parents can open up and experience childbirth education in a whole new way.  

BWI offers a unique perspective because it is grounded in human values. The core of the knowledge and participation in pregnancy and birth is with the woman herself, and as such she should be the one included and trusted to make the best decisions for herself and her baby. I appreciate this approach because it’s also something that we should incorporate in our everyday life as well…. As I’ve grown more acquainted with BirthWorks and the Philosophies and human-values approach, it has inspired me and helped to keep me grounded as a birthworker. I am reminded that the only expert in a woman’s birth is the woman herself. No birthworker is an expert.

BirthWorks approach is heart-centered and fills a gap that other childbirth education and pregnancy yoga classes for moms don’t touch on in enough depth. I stay involved in BWI because it’s values-driven, from the heart and spirit informs the philosophies. At the same time, it is evidence-based and academic theory informed.  It believes in the power of women and their power to birth, honoring intuition and connection to their own body and their babies.  It also empowers women in the best way to believe in themselves, and to know and understand and trust when medical support is needed and the best choice.

The BirthWorks Experience, to me, is women staying connected around their divine power to birth and their capabilities, which has been lost and is deeply needed and needs to be part again of our ideology and conversation about birth, and even more than that, needs to be the norm. From years of being involved, there are infinite testimonials that come from parents, childbirth educators and doulas who experience our workshops, take our training and from parents who attend childbirth preparation classes. It is inspiring to see how many people are touched by this work and in varied ways it is impactful, not just through each person’s journey and  transformation from pregnancy to parenthood, but also in their lives! People walk away surprised, inspired, empowered… and also more calm, compassionate and confident – of their own power, the miracle of birth, and how a values-based approach to becoming parents and being birthworkers is so important.

To learn more for yourself, join a Workshop, get Certified or find a Parent Class.

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Oxytocin: The Love Hormone

My name is Ashton Gelzinis, and I am one of the founders of Birth Naturally Brevard, LLC, a childbirth education and doula service business. My partners, Julie O’Neill and Elizabeth McLean, and I have served women in Brevard for several years and love every minute. We are also the owners of a small retail shop called The Oxytocin Emporium where we sell merchandise to support our doula clients and sister birthworkers! We absolutely love the name of our shop because of our fascination with the hormone oxytocin. We hope that our work only raises the levels of oxytocin in the room!

During our time supporting pregnant women and their partners, we have found ourselves fascinated by the process and how women’s bodies evolve and prepare in the weeks leading up to their birth. The hormones of undisturbed labor and the role they play not only during birth, but throughout the mother’s postpartum recovery are nothing but amazing. There are lots of hormones at play during this process, but the one we all hear most often is oxytocin.

Oxytocin. “The Love Hormone.” “The Cuddle Hormone.” This single hormone plays a major role in women’s bodies throughout their lives, but most importantly in pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. Outside of pregnancy and birth, oxytocin contributes to fertility, digestion, wound healing, morality, personal connection, and many other situations throughout our lives.

“Oxytocin is the hormone of love. We share it when we have a good conversation, we share it when we make love, and when we hug, and BIRTH is the biggest brightest time of oxytocin sharing.” -Robin Lim

Let’s look at how this incredible hormone contributes to birth – the way it is supposed to. It plays a pivotal role in the birth process, not only to encourage surges, but it provides the mother with space to fall in love and bond with her newborn.

While laboring, the mother’s body releases oxytocin in response to the pressure of the baby on the pelvic floor. This release of oxytocin brings on those amazing powerful surges that help to efface and dilate the cervix, push the baby down into the birth canal, and birth the placenta. Oxytocin is released throughout the pregnancy, but really reves up just before and during birth for these reasons. In certain situations, mothers can encourage a release of oxytocin with nipple stimulation, a quiet, intimate break with her partner, or clitoral stimulation. If a labor is considered “slow to progress,” trying some of these techniques may help encourage that release and speed up the process rather than using synthetic oxytocin that doesn’t work in the same ways in the body.

Once the baby is born, more oxytocin is released, the placenta is delivered and afterbirth contractions continue to help close up the placental site and slow bleeding.

When her baby is born, the mother takes one look at this new life and gets another burst of this amazing hormone to help encourage her to bond and fall in love her new bundle. Oxytocin forces us to slow down and focus on what is most important – nurturing and feeding our baby. Every latch causes another release that helps to slow any postpartum bleeding and encourages her uterus to return to its original size before baby. The oxytocin released during nursing also encourages a healthy milk supply.

Another interesting oxytocin tidbit is that not only birthing mothers release oxytocin. Partners who are involved and present for the birth of their child release higher levels of oxytocin through the end of the pregnancy. Their levels actually continue to stay higher than average for about 6 months after the birth. This hormone in partners who didn’t give birth perform a very similar job – encourages bonding and loving. It truly is the “Love Hormone.”

In any birthing room, let’s do our part to let this hormone work it’s magic. Let’s give women the space they need to birth their babies. Let’s step away from the technological additions to birth and let mothers’ bodies work. When a woman is undisturbed, her body’s hormones work together with her baby to find just the right path for them. As doulas, we hold space, we remind mothers that the oxytocin is working and her body is nothing but incredible. That truly is the honor of my life. Let the oxytocin flow!


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Adina’s Testimonial

Attending the BirthWorks childbirth education workshop in Mt Dora, Florida this May was way more than I bargained for! The place was absolutely stunning. A Victorian style historical hotel with sprawling grounds against a backdrop of the magnificent lake and quaint town. But even more than that was the content of this 3 day workshop given by Cathy Daub. The workshop was so comprehensive and included topics such as grieving, mother daughter relationships, optimal pelvic positioning as well as many others that are not usually included in typical childbirth preparation classes. They were all taught through hands on experimental learning and not through didactic teaching. It was the BirthWorks experience I came out with!

One of the really vital things was teaching and facilitating using open ended questions and letting the other party find their inner guide to direct them. That evening I had a chance to really practice this skill. Being a doula, I had a client in labor and sent a backup.  Right before pushing, my backup called me asking if I could speak to the client as she was panicking about pushing. Instead of going into my long speech about why she shouldn’t be scared to push and how she’s done this in the past, I asked her what her fear was. She said she’s afraid she can’t do it. I asked her what she felt she needed to be able to move forward and she said she thought she needed help from the doctor. I said what kind of help. She said she remembered from her last birth that the doctor did supra pubic pressure because the baby’s shoulders got stuck. I gently reminded her that the only reason the doctor did that was to help the shoulders but the head was out already. So she said, “oh ok, but I’m still scared.”  So I asked her, “What do u want?”  She said she wanted her baby to come out without pushing. I said great. Imagine it. She said she can’t because she  has no energy. So at that point I told her to visualize G-ds energy as she inhales coming into her uterus and as she exhales pushing out her baby. She said,”Ok you visualize it for me!”   I said sure and she hung up empowered and pushed her 9 and half pound baby out with one push!!!

It was such a great lesson for me and I can’t thank Cathy and BirthWorks enough!

Earlier that day this same client was laboring pretty slow so I instructed my backup to do the rocking technique we had just learned that morning and she progressed very quickly to 10 cm!

Recently I had a prenatal meeting for a client who had 2 previous c sections and I used the grieving process we learned, asking her if she wanted to share anything that was hurting her  and she ended up telling me about a few childhood moves her family made when she was in school and how she was afraid to get too close to anyone and then have to move again and she came up with the idea that she was scared to carry something through to the end, the finish line. Explaining to her how we birth the way we live, both her previous births she stalled at 3 cm and wasn’t able to progress further. That awareness was amazing for her and it’s all due to the skills I learned in the grieving session.

Thanks a lot!

Adina Hoffman


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Birth Testimonial

by Erika Sanchez   Written January 4, 2019

My husband and I attended the Birth Works (birthing class) at Beach Cities this past October. It was taught by Janell Bartzatt.

This was our 3rd baby. The first two were healthy, hospital births. We had taken a birthing class at the hospital 7 years ago with our first child and almost didn’t sign up for this one. But because it was our first out-of-hospital birth, we decided it would probably be a good idea. I think we both felt pretty knowledgeable already on birth! But we both learned more from this class than we had through reading dozens of books and living through two deliveries!

Janell’s class not only covers a kind of what to expect, physically. But it also went through what to expect, emotionally. I left the class with such a clear understanding of what baby is going through during that labor, how I can help assist, and how to manage my pain. My husband felt more involved too. He had a better understanding of what he could do to help me through it.

We talked about fears and concerns we may have and how to move them to a place of control. Knowledge is power. So many of my fears were just from not knowing.

I left the class feeling empowered and that I could do this! It is so natural and not scary. Janell’s understanding on the topic made the class fun- it was a safe place to ask questions and to find real answers.

My daughter was born at Beach Cities 11 days ago on Christmas Eve morning. To say it was the perfect birth is an understatement. It was really everything I had wanted it to be. I really owe so much of that to Janell and this class. I was able to talk to myself to relax and breathe. My husband knew counter pressure points to help with the pain when it got really intense. Labor wasn’t happening to me- I was 100% in control. I was 100% present and it was amazing!

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When Will my Baby Sleep Through the Night?

By: Katie Sanzi, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and owner of Sleepyhead Consulting

This is a difficult question to answer without getting into some specific details, which is unfortunate, because when parents ask me this, I know they’re looking for a quick, concise, time-based answer.

“Three nights from now,” or “Six months old,” are the kind of responses they’re hoping for, and the kind I wish I could give them, but there are a lot of factors to consider, and some things to understand before you can narrow down the timeline.

The first thing I feel parents need to understand is this…

Your baby will never sleep through the night.

That’s right! They won’t sleep through the night when they’re toddlers, or when they’re teenagers, or when they’re grown-ups, because nobody ever does.

We human beings sleep in cycles, which vary from light sleep to deep sleep and back again. Occasionally, when we get into the light sleep stage of a cycle, we hear a noise, or we’re in the middle of a crazy dream, or the dog jumps on the bed, or we just shift a little, and that little thing, whatever it may be, is just enough to wake us up.

As adults, we have experienced this thousands of times, so we just shake it off and go back to sleep. Most of the time, the wake-up is so brief that we don’t even remember it the next day.

But for babies who are used to being rocked, sung, bounced or nursed to sleep, waking up in the night requires external help to get back into a peaceful slumber.

So that’s the reason why baby’s never going to sleep through the night, but then, that’s not what parents are really asking.

What they want to know is, “When will my baby be able to get back to sleep on their own?”

That’s a much easier question to answer. Quite simply, this will happen when they learn how.

When you teach your little one to go to sleep on their own, they’ll be able to employ that skill multiple times a night, every night, for the rest of their lives.

Now, there’s more to it than just leaving your baby alone in their crib and letting them figure it out for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, that approach has worked for a lot of people, but it’s not one that everybody is comfortable using, and it’s not the most gentle or effective way of teaching your baby great sleep skills.

The traditional Cry-It-Out approach is a lot like leaving your child in front of a piano with some sheet music and saying, “Figure it out.” Eventually, they just might, and you might just have the Elton John of sleeping on your hands. But assuming your child isn’t gifted in the sleep department, (and I’m just assuming they’re not, since you’re reading this) they could probably benefit with some lessons.

And as with any skill that a child needs to learn, practice is essential, so let them give it a shot. There’s probably going to be a bit of crying, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go in and encourage, comfort and reassure them.

What you shouldn’t do, however, is sit down at the piano and play it for them. Obviously, that doesn’t teach them anything. So whatever it is that you’ve traditionally done to get your child to go to sleep in the evening, or in the middle of the night, whether it’s giving them a pacifier, rocking them back to sleep, nursing them, whatever, these “sleep props” are the equivalent of playing the piano for your child to teach them how.

They may be frustrated, they may get upset, but they’ll learn with a little time and practice.

So although I can’t give an exact date or age when your baby will go through the night without crying and demanding help to get back to sleep, I can tell you without hesitation that it will be much, much sooner if you stop doing it for them.

As for teaching your little one to play piano, you’re on your own with that one.


Sleepyhead Consulting, LLC
PO Box 36, Lattimer Mines, PA 18234

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The Infant Microbiome: 6 Things Every Parent Should Know

Guest post by Toni Harman

Unleashing the Science: 6 Things Every Parent Should Know About The Infant Microbiome

Filmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford collaborated on MICROBIRTH
Filmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford

For the past five years, I have been fully immersed in bacteria. More specifically, my partner and I have explored the wonders of the human microbiome, the bacterial ecosystem that lays the foundations for lifelong health.

As documentary filmmakers, we’ve been in a privileged position to travel tens of thousands of miles interviewing dozens of world-leading professors.
Continue reading The Infant Microbiome: 6 Things Every Parent Should Know